Having cut my teeth at the University of QLD Anthropology Museum, and being surrounded by other great campus museums, I knew I’d need to stop in and check out the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle. Universities benefit greatly for research and student use of campus museums – when I was studying, I got a chance to work in the gallery and collections, as well as putting together exhibitions. And the benefit of the museums being open to the public means greater reach of your exhibitions and materials.
After meandering through the campus from the bus stop, I was greeted by some beautiful totem poles and wooden carvings, plus a lush ethnobotanical garden. Ah, the things you can get away with in a climate like Seattle’s. It’s a beautiful and welcoming front to the museum.
Heading inside to the small lobby/main hall of the museum, I paid my entrance fee (a modest $10USD), and beelined straight for the Pacific Voices exhibition. My familiarity with ethnographic collections lies with Pacific materials, having studied & worked in Museums in Australia – so it was like a little trip home in a sense.
Grouped broadly into cultural/geographic groups, you start with Hawaii and wind your way through the gallery. The displays have a great range of artifacts and both historic and recent information about the cultures they are from. I loved the section of Hawaii that had a section on hula – you could listen to recordings, and they had this great card from a local Seattlite on how to do hula.
I really enjoyed this exhibition, the content and the way they tried to engage visitors, especially school groups. I’m biased, because I love South Pacific material culture especially, but everything was beautiful. I loved the puppets case, and – of course – the stuff on North West Pacific First Nations culture.
Upstairs there was also a great exhibition tying together NW Pacific art and objects from the collection with new pieces of art that inspired local native artists in Washington state. It was intriguing to see the influences of the collection material on the new forms of art. These were my favourites:
The bulk of the rest of the exhibition space was dedicated to natural history, in some part detailing research at UW, but also on the natural history of Washington state, following through a linear narrative. It was great for someone like me, who’d never been to that part of the continent, but I assume it’s invaluable for school students on visits also. Lots of stuff about glaciers, volcanos, shifting sea levels, and how that all shaped the landscape and ecology of the area. Lots of fossils and specimens, but I particularly enjoyed these artifacts. The gorgeous patterns of the tree slices and the colour of the stone tool had me enamoured.
If you find yourself in the U District of Seattle with a morning or afternoon to spare, I encourage you to visit the Burke Museum. If you’d like to punctuate your wandering of the galleries and gawking at the displays with a bite to eat or some coffee, there’s a cafe on the premises. Take the time to enjoy visiting a small museum that subsists on donations and admission fees.
So it’s been almost a couple of weeks since the Gathering of Friends convention wrapped up. This year, as last, we had to come back for some of the weekdays in between the weekends because of Real Life. But we managed to pack in a lot of gaming in those long weekends. A whirlwind of not realizing what day it was, and not remembering when we’d been outside last.
You can head to the Daily Worker Placement to read mine and my friend Sean’s kinda general wrap-up of the con here. I also did a big ol’ geeklist on Boardgame Geek like each year I’ve been, mostly to have my remarks all in one place so I can refer to it!
For me, the Gathering is not an experience I take part in so I can rub people’s noses in it. It’s great fun for me and my other half, and it’s not often we get the chance to attend something like this. I’ve heard a lot of guff from folks post-Gathering that they hate hearing about it because it’s an invite-only convention. I’m gonna say to you all reading right now – sorry, but suck it. This is the only board game-focused convention I get to go to (although this year I will be attending BGGcon for the first time, so there’s more games for me!). I like going because I get to see friends I don’t get to see often, I get to make new friends, I get to play games, and I get to try some games that will be upcoming soon. Almost everything there you can get out of any other board game convention; perhaps the last part only if you go to one of the Unpub events, but sitting down to play prototypes is getting much easier as a gamer in North America, there’s a few cities here in Canada that run designer/testing nights on a regular basis too!
That being said, I want to wrap up with my main thoughts on games I played, experiences I had. It was great to have Tabletop Day fall on the first weekend!
* Japanese/Taiwanese games – I tried a few games that I had never seen, given how tough it can be to get a hold of them in North America, and they were great!! Three faves were Doggy Go!, Colors of Kasane and Deep Sea Adventure. Such streamlined game design, great gameplay, and wonderful graphic design for all three. All gifts of these games to me are welcomed 😀
* Prototypes – there are some of these that I can’t really say much about – two of my favourites were being shopped around for a publisher: Vlaada Chvatil has a word game, and Matt Leacock made a party game. They’re both amazing, and will surely be published soon. The other secret stuff I really enjoyed was some Werewolf-y related stuff from Bezier, and also the prototype of One Night Resistance that they had also. So good! Most ridiculously fun party game prototype was Josh Cappell’s “X While Z” which better get published or I’m gonna be SO MAD. Possibly my most anticipated or one I really want to dive back into was CGE’s Castaways Club, a spiritual successor to Last Will. And I’m curious to see where the development of the awesome Space Cowboys title TIME Stories will end up!
* Fun events/tournaments – I partook in the ‘Game of the Afternoon’ which is a fun afternoon of game designers mocking up small/short games all in one area of the con to try – this year’s theme was cars/racing! It was great fun, and I ended up coming first out of my team in the set of races we went through. I missed the other tournaments I wanted to take part in (Caffeine Rush, Loopin’ Louie) and realized too late there was a cool puzzle hunt as well. And the customary last tournament of the weekend is for Can’t Stop – I didn’t last the first round! As always.
* Prize table – if you contribute to the prize table at the GOF, then you get to pick from it, too. This year, Adam gave a couple of games, and I put in two sets of Meeple tree ornaments – the couple that got them from the table are going to make them into a baby mobile for their twins which is ACE. If you’re a tournament winner you get an earlier pick from the table (really many tables – see below). For first picks, I grabbed Sherriff of Nottingham, Adam got Dead of Winter, and then more stuff towards the end when it was a free for all. I love seeing the creativity on the ‘special’ prizes table – someone made an amazing playable Pandemic globe! And some great painted minis, custom wooden Dominion card box, a set of plates with game boards/covers, and much more. I gotta step up my game next year.
BGGcon will tide me over, and let me see some of my GOF folks, but I do truly look forward to next year’s Gathering and all the fun, games and atmosphere it offers.